Probably more times than you can count you have wished that you could have five more people to help in the accounts receivable department. Most accounts receivable and collection departments are overworked and understaffed, leaving many A/R professionals stressed out and wondering how they are going to get everything done.
Not only is this a difficult amount of pressure for accounts receivable specialists to work under, but it can leave the department not fulfilling their greatest potential. In other words, the business is missing out on cash flow. Unfortunately, most companies don’t have the bandwidth, cash flow or space to simply add 5 more bodies to their department.
This is where automation can come in handy. Adding automation into the accounts receivable department allows you to get more work done without the added headcount or actually doing the work. Instead, you can simply set it and forget it, and watch the cash flow in.
Below we’ve highlighted four main areas of the accounts receivable department that can be automated, so you can focus on what really matters – receiving payments.
Many different types of communications can be automated in the accounts receivable department. This won’t replace the collection phone calls you need to make to customers who are really holding up payment, but it will catch a lot of customers in the middle who would have simply paid if they had a reminder. There are three main types of communications that can be automated: email, SMS and phone. With email communications, you can simply set up a workflow – whether that is customers with a new invoice, customers 60 days past due or whatever criteria you decided – and your templated email will be sent out to any customer that meets that criteria. Additionally, customer specific information can be automatically filled into the email, such as the customer’s first name, past due amount, days past due, etc. The same goes for an automated SMS communication, except this communication will be sent to their mobile device as opposed to their email. Finally, phone conversations can be automated by setting up a menu, allowing customers to self-serve the information they need. Menu options can include past due amount, amount of last payment, payment due date, etc. By automating menu options such as this, you’re no longer fielding tedious phone calls all day, but can instead focus on customers with questions about the invoice, invoice disputes or particularly difficult customers.
Sometimes your day can be filled simply with plugging in credit card information for the customer. Should it really be this difficult to get paid? With an online bill pay portal, customers can self-serve their payments and enter in the information on their own. To make the deal even sweeter, these payments can be automated. For customers that are interested, you can set up their credit card or ACH payments to be recurring. Every month when an invoice is due, the payment will be automatically pulled from their account. No chasing down for payment necessary.
If an invoice sits in dispute for too long, the chances of getting paid continue to dwindle. Often times, departments will escalate this to a department manager, as well as notifying the sales department. Doing an escalation manually can cause bottlenecks, making the invoice sit in dispute for an even longer time. By automating this process, as soon as the invoice is marked in dispute, it can automatically be escalated to the appropriate person and they will be notified of the dispute, as well.
It doesn’t matter if you’re in the accounts receivable department or the sales department, reports take forever to make. Some people can spend hours extracting data and putting it into a format that makes sense for the key stakeholders who need this information. However, by automating these reports they can be automatically created for you and even delivered right to the inbox of those who need them.